Diane and I just got back from watching the movie “Cloverfield”. We pay $6.25 for all movies at our two local theaters and since I’ve been around, we see movies more often. There were only 12 of us in the 10:40 a.m. showing, so it was very quiet. I don’t know if the rest of the patrons enjoyed the movie, but I did.
The premise is very neat, a POV monster documentary set in lower Manhattan. The movie opens with a warning from the U.S. Department of Defense and states that the film was found in the area formally known as ‘Central Park’. Thus from the beginning, you know that something went horribly wrong.
Rob Hawkins is moving to Japan, (an homage to Godzilla), and his brother Jason and his friends Lily Ford and Hud Platt are throwing him a farewell party. The tape in the digital camera however, starts with Rob the morning after in bed with Elizabeth McIntyre. Best friends who chose to have sex and then remain ‘just friends’, they spent the day together at Coney Island. This happened the previous month and due to Jason and Hud who use Rob’s camera to record the party and subsequent events, they wind up taping over Rob’s and Elizabeth’s time together.
A typical twenty somethings party, lots of music, lots of drinking and of course, lots of testimonials recorded for posterity by Hud. He is an interesting character, Hud, the kinda know-it-all and won’t shut up friend that hangs around the periphery of the action. Put a camera in his hands and the edict to document ‘everything’ and that’s just what he does. The hand-held jittery action is annoying, but very realistic, as anyone who has watched amateur videos on their computer can attest.
Hud has a crush on Marlena Diamond and stalks her around the party. When there is a sudden earthquake around midnight, the party goers rush to the roof to see what is going on. Wouldn’t you? That is the shock in the movie; one second you are having a party and the next minute, the world is coming to an end. Needless to say, explosions and buildings collapsing have them running to street level where they are met by the severed head of The Statue Of Liberty being hurled down the street. (Planet Of Apes)
Cliches perhaps, but it works. The remainder of the film centers around each of the principal characters motivations and how under extreme stress, each of them becomes someone else. For Rob, a message on his cell from Beth saying that she ‘is trapped in her apartment’ spurs him to trek uptown to rescue her. They had a nasty breakup scene at the party and now all that Rob can think about, is going to her. The rest of the cast goes with him, not because they agree, but because they won’t leave their friend.
An interesting note in the movie is the quick response of the military, both ground units and aircraft and the fact that the power never goes completely out. I’m not sure if it was deliberate on the part of the director, but the fire alarms and the emergency exit signs work everywhere. A tribute to strict building codes. By the end of the movie, the military is losing and our protagonists are told that by morning, the City will be sacrificed to kill the monster.
I really enjoyed the movie. It’s not a horror flick, there is mild blood and gore, but mainly a sense of terror as this large and unknown creature wrecks Manhattan. There are also some smaller ‘babies’ that are shed by the beast and these do most of the maiming and eating of the citizens. I read that the cast was hired not knowing what was going to happen and all the main actors and actresses have a natural and visceral reaction to the disaster unfolding around them. Our perspective is reduced to a single camera angle and as we are reluctantly dragged along with them, we find ourselves wondering what we would do in the same situation.
That alone is reason enough to see “Cloverfield”.